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Business news app Quartz acquired by Japanese media firm Uzabase

The editor-in-chief of business publication Quartz has insisted the business “will operate without disruption” after being acquired by Japanese media firm Uzabase for up to $110m.

Kevin J. Delaney, who is also co-president, explained in a letter to readers that Uzabase’s ambition “echoes our own” — to build the leading business news brand of this century”.

Uzabase, founded by a former UBS investment banker and a technology consultant, will pay the parent company of Quartz, Atlantic Media, between $75 and $110m, depending on the 2018 financial performance.

Delaney and Quartz co-president Jay Lauf will remain with the business.

Uzabase, which owns subscription-based business site NewsPicks, has offices in Singapore, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York in addition to Japan. It also owns SPEEDA, a financial business-intelligence service.

Quartz will take responsibility for the English-language version of NewsPicks while continuing all its existing activities.

Uzabase said NewsPicks, which launched in 2013, has 3.3 million registered users in Japan and 64,000 paying subscribers. Almost half of NewsPicks revenue is generated from subscriptions.

NewsPicks entered the US market in mid-2017 as a joint venture with publisher Dow Jones. Uzabase said its growth is already two times higher than the Japanese historical record.

Uzabase said the acquisition will create a “larger, more robust global business news brand that combines Quartz’s voice, editorial, advertising, and product expertise, and international reach with Uzabase’s deep expertise in data and niche paid content”.

Uzabase and NewsPicks founder and chief executive Yusuke Umeda added: “Five years ago, when I was originally thinking about launching a digital media business, I discovered Quartz for the first time. I thought that they were truly the first new media company to successfully combine quality journalism with mobile technology, and they played a big role in inspiring me to launch NewsPicks.

“I am very excited to enter the next chapter of NewsPicks’s growth with a company and team that I respect so much.”

Kevin J Delaney

Delaney told readers: “Uzabase’s ambition echoes our own – to build the leading business news brand of this century – and now we are united in this mission along with you, our readers.

“We expect the partnership will allow us to provide you with even more high-quality, independent, globally minded journalism about the new global economy.”

He added: “Uzabase is the perfect partner to create a truly global business media company spanning from Tokyo to New York. There is a striking overlap in the official values of Uzabase and Quartz, which include the importance of boldness and creativity, genuinely putting users first, being globally minded, and doing everything with a spirit of generosity.”

Delaney said “many things will remain unchanged following the completion of this acquisition”.

Quartz will “continue to operate without interruption”.

Nevertheless, Delaney described it as a “new chapter”.

“We will soon offer you ways to go even deeper with Quartz’s coverage through subscription products,” he told readers. “These will build on and learn from the success that NewsPicks has had with similar offerings in Japan.

“We expect our existing products to remain free, but are very focused on also providing premium content and services alongside them, and have been surveying readers about what else you would value from us.”

Quartz said the acquisition comes at a “time of momentum for Quartz” with the business on track to to increase advertising revenue by up to 35% over 2017.

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